The much anticipated final round meeting between Jennifer Jones and Kaitlyn Lawes lived up to the expectations of curling fans in the arena and tuning in for the game on CurlManitoba’s YouTube Channel.
The Abby Ackland team, skipped by Meghan Walter, lived up tot heir own expectations, winning a pair of game Saturday to force a late tiebreaker draw and then winning the tiebreaker to earn a spot in today’s 3-team playoff.
The Jones team earned the bye to the Sunday 2PM final game but it wasn’t easy. On the opening end, with a routine draw for two as the easy choice, Kaitlyn Lawes elected to play a tough but makeable double kill for a possible four. A 2, a 3, or a 4 ender were all possible outcomes from curling ‘not quite enough’ or from curling ‘just a little too much’. The result was in-between and the Lawes thrown stone rolled across the top of the second stone without touching it – scoring just a single point.
From there, the teams traded deuces until Lawes was forced to a single on the eight, scored only because she called and made a big weight double between two centre lines guards which contacted both and continued through to remove a Jones stone on the four foot.
Jones and her St. Vital/Altona foursome finally jumped ahead with a deuce on the ninth and had Lawes apparently beaten coming home when Lawes tried one more highlight reel shot. Her attempted double raise double kill for two and a tie was “oh so close” – as her promoted stone sailed between the two Jones stones on either side of the button in the four foot circle.
It left curling fans wanting more but the only way they get more is if the Lawes Fort Rouge team wins the Sunday 9:30AM semi-final against the Walter/Ackland foursome.
Saturday began with Team Ackland facing the daunting task of winning three games – and two would be against Beth Peterson’s Assiniboine Memorial team – if Peterson lost her opening match to Jennifer Jones.
The Ackland team, who give the East St. Paul organizers a team representing their own club in the playoffs, built momentum throughout the day. They defeated Darcy Robertson while Peterson was challenging Jones in a game which went to the final end. The disappointing loss set the stage for a tough day for Peterson’s team. Team Ackland was on a roll, leading 6-5 after seven ends, they stole the eight and ninth for a victory and then dominated the late tiebreaker game against the same Peterson team.
No matter today’s results, Jennifer Jones and Kaitlyn Lawes and their teams will be going to the national Scotties, either as Manitoba champions or wildcard entries. Ranked #3 & #4 respectively on the Canadian Team Ranking they’ll be at the nationals in Kamloops. Team Ackland, who formal name by that time will be Team Walter, still have a very good chance of being there as well.
As #7 on CTRS, they can go as Manitoba champions if they beat Lawes and then Jones to day. If not, a wildcard invitaiton appears to be as simple as Rachel Homan winning the Ontario final today.
The current CTRS rankings are:
#1 – Kerri Einarson (Team Canada)
#2 – Rachel Homan
#3 – Jennifer Jones
#4 – Kaitlyn Lawes
#5 – Clancy Grandy (BC Champion)
#6 – Casey Scheidegger (Alberta Finalist – she’ll get a wildcard entry)
#7 – Abby Ackland
With three wildcard spots available, the formula appears simple. Einarson & Grandy don’t need one and Scheidegger will have one – leaving two for four teams. Assuming a Jones-Lawes final, then one will be provincial champion and the other will get a wild card invitation – leaving one for two teams, either Homan or Ackland.
So Team Ackland will be cheering for Homan – but when the day begins at East St. Paul they can also just focus on the task of beating Lawes and then Jones, an accomplishment which would earn them the champions’ berth at Kamloops and create a legendary finish to be talked about for years.
FYI: Homan in Ontario, like Jones in Manitoba, has advanced to the final and awaits the semi-final winner (Hollie Duncan vs Danielle Inglis)